19 - 30 September 2022
Sahara Challenge 2022
19 – 30 September 2022
Nine million square kilometres of sand, seas of rolling dunes, and large rock plateaus. The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, a vast wilderness that stretches all the way across the top of Africa. There aren’t many environments on the planet that can claim to be as harsh as the extremes experienced in the Sahara, excesses of temperature at either end of the mercury, dust storms that engulf all that stand before, and a lack of water that even the Dromedary Camel struggles with.
But for all the hardship, this is a place where life endures and finds a way, whether that be the West African Cheetah, or its distant cousin the Sand Cat or the countless other examples of wildlife that call this wilderness home. Human life also finds a way, nomadic herdsmen eking out a life in this severe environment.
It is also beautiful, the golden sand of the desert striking a hard contrast with the azure blue of the sun-filled skies, oasis of green punctuating the dunes in a riot of life, water and colour and the topographic and geological transitions that are sometimes the only clue to any changes in elevation or guides to direction.
To witness this huge area is a once in a lifetime experience, a privilege and a reminder that life can conquer all and find a way just about anywhere. To rally out here, on the other hand, is a joy that is only really known by those that have done it. The Sahara Challenge will select the very best bits that the desert has to offer and condense it all into a 12-day adventure, that will test the soul and leave an unrivalled feeling of triumph after one has conquered the ever-encroaching sands of the desert.
Beginning and ending in Spain, just a short hop over the Mediterranean Sea will transport all of those involved into another time, a distant world where the roads were sparsely populated and the roadsides even less so. If remote rallying is what you are after, the Sahara Challenge is the test for you.
For those with Peking to Paris 2022 ( now postponed until 2023) on their minds, the Sahara Challenge will also provide a very important platform to shake down cars and test them before the ultimate challenge begins just a few months later. Few other rallies will provide an opportunity to test cars in such extremes of temperature and on sandy and soft roads that are always a hallmark of the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.
Whatever your reason for entering, the Sahara Classic offers to be a phenomenal adventure for anyone brave enough to enter. The opportunity to experience one of the world’s last great wildernesses, and rally a classic car whilst doing so, well, those chances don’t just come along every day.
We hope to see you on the start line in September 2022…
Who can participate?
The event is open for vintageant cars built before 1948 and for Classic cars of a type built before 1975. Cars of a later date but unchanged mechanical specification will be considered at the Organisers’ discretion. Classes based on engine size will subdivide these categories.
The event is suitable for both novice and more experienced crews. An easy to follow Tulip Route Book will be supplied. Our experienced team of officials will be at your disposal at all times to support you and we will provide hints and tips on navigation.
This event is open to HERO-ERA club & premier members – join now or login to register for this event
Tell Me More
To find out more please call Annette, Eleonora or any of the Rally Office team or email us for your copy of the event brochure and entry form. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and offer any guidance you may need.
Phone: +44 (0)1869 254979
Email: [email protected]
The Sahara Challenge Participants
Entry List as of 24.08.22
Sahara Numbered Entry List - 07/09/22
Don’t run the risk of finding a full entry list for The Sahara Challenge 2022. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Annette, Eleonora or any of the Rally Office team. You can also email us on the address below. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and offer any guidance you may need.
Phone: +44 (0)1869 254979
Email: [email protected]
The 2022 Route and Event Itinerary
Day 1. Malaga to Tangier
All adventures must start somewhere and ours will begin in the Spanish port city of Malaga, with 134 km of stunning coastline in between our departure city and Algeciras, the roads for the day will dip in and out of the Andalusian hills that dominate the area, and if it is a clear day there will be tantalising glimpses across the Mediterranean Sea of Africa.
Once in Algeciras, the ferry to Tangier will take us across the Strait of Gibraltar and onward to Morocco and our gateway to the Sahara.
Day 2. Tangier to Fes
The Maghreb coast town of Tangier has been an important point of passage between Europe and Africa since Phoenician times and unsurprisingly given its strategic position has come under many different stewardships in its history. Heading south towards Fes, the landscape will begin to change as we gain altitude, with Regularities in the Rif Mountains and a visit to Chefchaouen, the famous blue city.
Day 3. Fes to Midelt
Upon leaving Fes, the upcoming Atlas Mountains will loom large in the distance. The Moyen Atlas, or Middle Atlas, will provide a playground for the day with its well-regarded, twisty tarmac roads. The Atlas Mountains have been a natural barrier to the Sahara for millennia, and whilst this day will see us travel along their ridges to the town of Midelt for the night, they will need to be conquered in their entirety before we can truly claim to be properly in the desert.
Day 4. Midelt to Erfoud
Once we arrive safely in Erfoud we will have crossed the Atlas and descended into beginnings of the desert. The roads on this day will be spectacular, a tremendous mix of high mountain passes and sand flanked desert road. Erfoud is an oasis town, and exactly what one pictures when imagining settlements in the desert. We will view the world with an orange hue, a characteristic that will become par for the course as the adventure into the desert begins in earnest the following day.
Day 5. Erfoud to Merzouga
The mighty Erg-Chebbi dunes. Orange sands rise up in mighty wind-blown mountains, reaching 150 metres in some places as they meet the azure blue skies. Vegetation is all but non-existent, the odd bit of scrub breaking up the sand and the heat is tremendous. Visions of Dakar and desert races will no doubt flood your mind as some of the most exciting driving anyone can experience is undertaken as the rally heads to Merzouga, where we will camp under the dark, star filled skies of the desert.
Day 6. Merzouga to Ouarzazate
Out of the soft sands, rise the hard rock as the route takes us back towards the Atlas Mountains. Today the rally will encounter one of its highlights, the Todra Gorge. A series of limestone river canyons, with incredible roads and views mean that being stuck between a rock and a hard place is a pleasure for once. The canyon walls are 400 metres high in places, cut deep by the Todra river. Ouarzazate will provide our shelter for the night, known as the Gateway to the Sahara, it has also featured as a location for many famous films.
Day 7. Ouarzazate to Tafraoute
The roads through the Anti-Atlas Mountains are a joy to drive, and will be our through-fare to Tafraoute as we complete a full week on the road. The landscape is pretty incredible as well, and Lonely Planet rates it as some of the best scenery that Morocco has to offer, but also states that it is one of the least visited areas of the country. All of this translates into visiting one of the regions best-kept secrets, and having the incredible roads to ourselves. Tafraoute itself is surrounded on all four sides by red granite mountains, with a relaxed pace to the village.
Day 8. Tafraoute to Essaouira
Today the adventure begins to head north again, up to the port city of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Our descent from the Atlas will be as pleasurable as the climb through it, but there is still plenty of high altitude driving to be done, as well as taking in the coastal roads on the route to our evening terminus. Essaouira itself has a decidedly medieval European feel to it, as well as boasting an excellent beach, blown into a crescent shape by the favourable ‘trade’ winds.
Day 9. Essaouira to Marrakech
A reasonably short stint inland to the Imperial city of Marrakech will provide Day Nines entertainment. More sun-baked rock will await us on the road, littered with the occasional oasis and irrigated patch of farmland. The streets of Marrakech are full of life and the mixture of architecture and historical points of interest, as well as the gardens, restaurants and street markets will mean that this is a city you will want to explore as thoroughly as we will have discovered the roads of the region.
Day 10. Marrakech to Rabat
As we approach the end of our adventure, we will strike a course for Rabat and leave the Sahara largely behind us. The landscape will begin to change again as we approach Morocco’s capital city, becoming decidedly greener as we edge ever more north as well as more populated. There will still be plenty more incredible roads to be enjoyed though, as we take in the final full day of driving through a country, we are sure every single one of you will have fallen completely in love with.
Day 11. Rabat to Jerez
The Atlantic will be our guide as the route heads back towards Tangier and the ferry to Spain. There will still be plenty of Morocco to drive, with 300 kilometres or so of roads between Rabat and Tangier, and with the onward travel to Jerez it will be a tough, but enjoyable day of driving that may just provide a sting in the tail for the competitive element of the rally. The penultimate day yes, but by no means a gentle stroll into the finish.
Day 12. Jerez To Malaga
A final day of motoring through the Andalusian Hills to cap off 12 days of exploration in fine style. Ending where we began, it will have been two weeks of wonderful adventure, creating incredible memories and seeing parts of the magnificent country of Morocco that many people will never experience. The mighty Sahara will have been conquered, and despite its vast landscape and extremes of temperature everyone who competes in this rally will always be left with a warm, cosy glow when they think of it in years to come.
*Itinerary subject to change
Sahara Challenge Concludes its Loop of Morocco
Competition Goes Down to Final Day
The dust has settled, and the champagne has been sprayed, after 4500 difficult kilometres the 2022 Sahara Challenge has reached it’s end and Bentley driver Bill Cleyndert is victorious again, repeating his 2015 triumph, but this time with daughter Georgia in the navigator’s seat, on her first ever rally. Following the Cleyndert’s home were Pierre Gerber + Alice Leuenberger, in their 1946 Ford Coupe with third place being awarded to Jorge Perez Companc + Jose Volta in a 1938 Chevrolet Coupe, the very first rally for the car.
The rally itself followed a loop around Morocco, travelling east to Fez, south to the dunes of Merzouga and then back around the coast via Marrakech and Rabat, before finally ending where it had begun in Malaga, Spain. There were nights under canvas and torrential rain, as well as the hot sun that baked the landscape hard and dry. The route was certainly a treacherous and rough one, with care needed to ensure reliability of machine and as well as the dust of the desert floor there were the heights of the titanic Atlas Mountains to scale as well. A route that resembled a mini-Peking to Paris, on an event that pushed the skill of all of those involved.
Double Trouble in Consecutive Win for Cleyndert Senior and First Time Win for Cleyndert Junior
The victory for the Cleyndert’s was no easy feat, and after a tough second day they had dropped to 8th overall after picking up over two minutes of penalties and were some way off of the pace. But there began a gritty fight back, aided by consistency in their times as well as the fact that the Bentley 3-4½ proved tremendously reliable on the at times rough terrain, when others in the rally were suffering machine failure and in the case of one-time leaders Brian and Andrew Scowcroft, another parent and offspring pairing, ill health forced early retirement.
Bill and Georgia finally took the lead on day eight of the rally, wrestling top spot away from Gerber and Leuenberger and despite pressure from the Ford Coupe never let the lead slip and eventually finished 44 seconds clear of their nearest challengers. Bill was adamant throughout that he and his daughter were just out to have a good time, although his admiration for the accomplishment of his first-time map reader was plain for all to see, as was the clear enjoyment of rallying with his daughter. Of his victory Bill said, “Georgia won the rally really, I’m so proud of her, she’s been brilliant. It’s been a great event, great company, great roads and just a brilliant rally”.
The smile on Georgias face at the finish was as broad as the Sahara itself, and she remarked that “it’s quite surreal, and I don’t really know what to do with myself now. For two weeks I’ve followed tulips and a clock, and now it has finished I don’t know what to do next!” Next in terms of rallying could be The Flying Scotsman, an event that Georgia has her sights set on and we might perhaps be seeing the emergence of a new talent in the sport.
Second placed Pierre Gerber + Alice Leuenberger had put up a tremendous fight and held the lead for most of the rally, the Ford had looked a good pick for the desert and mountains and between the pair had always looked assured and in control. Whilst losing after leading id always tough to take both were in a positive frame of mind at the finish and Pierre stated “It has been a big experience, and we performed much better than expected as it is the first time for this car. We have learnt a lot, congratulations to Bill and Georgia, they deserve it and we are just happy to be back safe.”
Jorge Perez Companc + Jose Volta, who occupied third place on the podium in their Chevrolet Coupe may well be familiar to anyone who follows WRC or Dakar, as that is their usual realm of competition. Jorge though is looking for a change of pace as he matures, although no doubt the Dakar experiences paid dividends in the desert as they finished nearly three minutes ahead of fourth place. “Jose kept having to tell me to slow down, as the Chevy is not a WRC car” joked Jorge, “we could not believe it when we saw that we were in third, this is the car’s first rally, and it has been brilliant.”
Classic Category Separated by A Hair’s Breadth at Finish
Whilst this rally can only be won by cars of a pre-war persuasion, the competition for the overall win in the classic category was just as hot, with the lead changing hands constantly throughout the event. In fact, at one time it seemed as if nobody wanted to hold onto top spot. Eventually though it settled down into a two-horse race between Nigel Woof + Sally Woof in their 1961 Volvo PV544 and father and son team Franc Hofermann-Kiefer + Fritz Hofermann-Kiefer in their gorgeous bright yellow Datsun 240 Z and the battle would go right down to the wire.
For the Woof’s it was a case of what might have been, after an uncharacteristic mistake with the clocks on day 9 and then further navigational problems on day 10 had allowed the Datsun pair to claw back a debt of over a minute to the blue Volvo, and even a wonderfully solid performance from Nigel and Sally on the final day couldn’t make back the deficit. They finished just 4 seconds behind, an incredibly slim margin after such a vast distance. The class win belonged to Franc and Fritz though and was thoroughly deserved after some great performances on the road and diligent maintenance off of it at the end of each day. Franc commented that “my best moment was jumping in the dunes, just brilliant. We’ve not much experience of rallying but have been so impressed by incredible detail from the organisers, it has just been a wonderful experience” and Fritz added “The last few miles were stressful as we were running out of fuel. Luckily another competitor had some spare and we got here, but it was close.”
The rally has certainly been a tough one, and well it ought to be as well, being a warmup event for the mighty Peking to Paris and many on this rally are using it as an opportunity to test man and machine for that intense challenge. One such pairing preparing for that challenge were Tomas de Vargas Machuca + Josh Thompson, shaking down Tomas’ mammoth American LaFrance Type 10. The 1914 machine is colossal, dwarfing everything else in the rally and no doubt giving the residents of Morocco something to talk about for an age. The rally for Machuca and Thompson was certainly an arduous one, with the constant maintenance needed to keep the car rolling leading to many a late night which coupled with the steady pace needed to negotiate the rough roads meant long days in and out of the saddle. After making it to the finish HERO-ERA Chairman Tomas had this to say “it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in a car, such long days. I don’t know what to do with myself tomorrow, I’ll probably be up at 5:30 to work on the car as I have been every other day! It’s been a great event, amazing roads. The people have been amazing as well and the cheering kept us going on our longest days.”
Unforgettable Event from Clerk of the Course John Spiller
The route was the mastermind of the Clerk of the Course John Spiller, a man who has certainly experienced more than his fair share of endurance rallies, so it is only right that the final word should go to him. Reflecting on a successful and well received event ‘Spiller’ concluded that “The event went very well, with no major problems, despite one desert camp being washed away by the rain. I hope the competitors enjoyed it as well and I’m really happy for everyone here at the finish.”
So now the awards ceremony will take place and tomorrow we must all return to normality, after an event that was anything but. A special bond develops between competitors after an even such as this, and the stories of triumph and despair in the sands of the Sahara will no doubt be told for many a year. For now though, to the victors the spoils, but to all that have competed there goes respect.
Congratulations to everyone who took part in and completed the Sahara Challenge 2022
RESULTS ARE NOW FINAL
The overall winners of the Sahara Challenge 2022 are:
1. Bill Cleyndert and Georgia Cleyndert – Bentley 3-4 1/2
2. Pierre Gerber and Alice Leuenberger – Ford Coupe
3. Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Volta – Chevrolet Coupe
The winners of the Sahara Challenge 2022 Classic Category are:
1. Frank Hofermann-Kiefer and Fritz Hofermann-Kiefer – Datsun 240Z
2. Nigel Woof and Sally Woof – Volvo PV544
3. Marco Halter and Claudia Halter – Porsche 911
Final Overall Results
Tracking is now unavailable…